Former Nationals lefty Zach Duke signs with the Reds

Alex Brandon/AP

Alex Brandon/AP

Left-handed pitcher Zach Duke, who the Nationals released earlier this week, inked a deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday and was assigned to their Class AAA affiliate, the Louisville Bats, according to both teams. The Nationals released Duke, 30, on Sunday, five days after they designated him for assignment in the recent overhaul of their bullpen.

The Nationals signed Duke in early December to a guaranteed contract worth $700,000. After the Houston Astros released him in 2012, the Nationals signed him and he went 15-5 at Class AAA Syracuse last season. He pitched well in a September call-up, convincing the Nationals to bring him back.

Duke began the season as the Nationals’ only left-handed reliever but struggled to make the transition from starter to full-time reliever, made harder by early inconsistent work. He posted a 8.71 ERA over 20 2/3 innings and left-handed batters hit .448 against him. The Louisville Bats are managed by former Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman.

The Nationals turned to left-handers Fernando Abad and Ian Krol instead, and scrapped the idea of a left-handed long reliever for now by moving right-handed Ross Ohlendorf to the bullpen.

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